Monday, 23 April 2018

Here for the jobs you hate

If you work for yourself or are the founder of a business, then you were (hopefully) driven by your passion for the product or service at the core of your enterprise.

Maybe you run a restaurant or a farm shop. Perhaps you are a beautician or a landscape gardener. Whatever the nature of your business, you probably didn’t go into it because you just LOVE paperwork, administration, IT or sales. OK....if you are an accountant, a Virtual Assistant, a tech wizard or a sales consultant you will be in love with one of those areas of work, but probably not the other three.

When you become your own boss you suddenly find that EVERYTHING becomes your responsibility. It’s a thrill the first time you get that business card in your hand that describes you as Managing Director or Owner. But it could also list a host of other job titles too. You are now also: Transport and Fleet Manager; HR Director; Sales Director; IT Director; Marketing Manager and even the office dogsbody.

Perhaps you are able to employ full-time staff to carry out some of these essential roles for you – but if you are the boss the buck stops with you and you need to understand enough about what they are doing to be confident that they are doing a good job.

If your finances don’t allow you to expand your payroll in the early days, then your option is to outsource tasks to freelancers and other small businesses. This frees you up to focus on the stuff you are best at – and what you really want to do. It also means that when you delegate work to someone who is an expert in that field they can do it more quickly and to a better standard than you could yourself.
Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash
Recently I practised what I preach by engaging expert proofreader Lindsay Corten, of Corten Editorial, to proofread some new and updated policies I had written for my website on privacy and terms and conditions. I enjoy writing most things but having completed these documents from legal templates I have access to through my membership of the Federation of Small Businesses, I didn’t want to spend any more time on them than was strictly necessary.

Helping other businesses and organisations with news articles, features, website copy, blogs and social media strategies is what I love to do. To me that’s far more interesting and exciting than the worthy policies I needed to write for my OWN website. So, having drafted up the documents, off they went to Lindsay who is superb at spotting the little inconsistencies that can sneak into multiple, formal documents and policies. She ironed out some punctuation and grammar issues that had come over with the original legal templates. My goodness, that woman is a stickler for detail and when she has proofread your work you can be sure it’s been proofread!

In the same way, I enjoy helping business owners who haven’t got the time or the inclination to write their own content for print and online channels. As an ex-journalist, I love finding out the stories behind businesses and what makes them tick. It’s great to get under the skin of a business and be able to ‘ghost’ write for CEOs and MDs when they have an opportunity to submit articles or columns to the trade press or local media. It’s such a buzz when they read what I’ve written and say ‘That sounds just like me’.

If you would rather retain control of the content produced by and about your business, I can also run training courses and one-off workshops to support employees and managers and help them to write for different audiences and purposes.

Writing a press release is a different discipline to writing a LinkedIn article, a chatty blog post or website copy. I can help people to hone the skills of structuring, writing and editing different types of content and developing the confidence to do it with the minimum of fuss.

So if writing and editing is a task you hate, give me a call and see how I could take some of the stress out of your to-do list.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Are you ready to quit social media?

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon made the news this week when it announced it was quitting all its social media channels.

Various reasons were given including:

  • It wasn't helping the business make money
  • It was distracting its 900 pub teams from the core job of serving customers
  • The chain didn't like the trolling on social media and the way people's data was being used.

In my experience, when people say social media is doing nothing for their business, it's more likely that the problem lies with them rather than the channels. Many business owners still don't really 'get' social media and they are not using it to its full potential. They expect overnight success and aren't prepared to put in the consistent effort that is required to build an audience and then hold their attention.

Photo by Jacob Ufkes on Unsplash

Unless you have a clear strategy linked to outcomes that you can measure, and a good understanding of your sector and your core audience, you can be a busy fool burning up hours throwing out sales messages.

For me, it all comes back to putting the 'social' at the forefront of your social media campaigns. You can push out posts about your latest special offers and hope that some of them stick, or you can invest time in finding out as much as you can about your customers, what they want and need and how you can them entertained, informed and make them loyal fans of your brand.

Success also depends on your offering - the products, services or hospitality that you offer have to be right. You need to offer value and great customer service. Social media can't make up for shortcomings in your business. It's a great tool to research and communicate, to tell stories that engage your customers, but it's not a miracle cure if your business is already struggling to deliver.

I've also written about The JD Wetherspoon story on LinkedIn. Please join the conversation there or leave me a comment here. Are you reviewing your use of social media? What are the biggest issues your business is facing online at the moment?